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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

DOE: Florida school districts need value-added techniques



TAMPA -- In another sign that Florida is moving toward statewide use of value-added measures of teacher effectiveness, the Department of Education today named a committee to develop a plan.

“Value added measures are the key to creating more effective teacher evaluation systems in our schools,” said Public Schools Chancellor Dr. Frances Haithcock, who said they would provide a "more holistic look at the work of our teachers as it relates to student academic growth."

Put simply, value-added is a statistical technique that uses student test scores to predict future performance. Once you can make confident predictions for each student in a class, you can also evaluate a teacher based on their success in meeting or exceeding that target.

That's the theory. And while its use has generated controversy even among reputable education researchers and statisticians, reformers are increasingly agreeing on its usefulness -- at least when combined with other measures like direct observation or even student evaluations -- in rating teachers. (Value-added was also part of last year's failed Senate Bill 6, and seems likely to reappear in a successor bill this spring.)

Hillsborough, which is developing its own value-added formula as part of its seven-year reform effort with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will put two representatives on the committee. (Anna Brown runs the assessment portion of the district's Gates reforms, and Doretha Edgecomb serves as chairwoman of the School Board.) Pinellas will be represented by Linda J. Kearschner, a vice president of the county PTA.

“Their voices and opinions are going to be critical as school districts throughout Florida work to build more accurate, fair and feedback-oriented evaluation systems for their educators,” said state Commissioner of Education Eric J. Smith in a statement.

The panel is one of eight subcommittees formed by the DOE in order to develop its plan to spend a $700 million grant from the Race to the Top federal stimulus program. Here is a full list of members for the value-added group, along with a link to the other subcommittees.



[Last modified: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 4:49pm]


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